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OPULENCE & SPLENDOUR

Luxury and the arts From houses to cars and from Hockney to van Dyck, a profile of the best and the worst

Is it worth the Fisk?

An overview on the pioneering Fisker Automotive company

Electric vehicles have long interested me. A formidable engineer I knew was hugely sceptical of the early offerings but another friend, Nicko Williamson, has been a pioneer in green vehicles through his hugely successful Climate Cars taxi business. Williamson recently was named one of London’s “1,000 most influential people” and has even gained endorsement from The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

The stunning Fisker Karma

In the main, electric cars are ones that I can’t say I’d choose to travel in. After reading in October 2010 of a lady named Judit Nadal who died in London in what her husband described as a “flimsy vehicle,” I became even more suspicious. The badly designed G-Wiz, following this tragic death, brought to this class of vehicles as much of an association with danger as they already had with a lack of both range and power. Thankfully, this image is now changing thanks to a company named Fisker Automotive.

 

On a recent BBC Top Gear show, presenter James May introduced viewers to the Fisker Automotive’s first model, the Karma. Here, he stated, was a car that truly is a stunningly designed electric vehicle but also one that actually is pretty swift off the mark too.

 

The normally cynical May praised the Fisker Karma as “probably the most politically correct car on earth” whilst his guest AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson, himself a confirmed petrolhead, described it as a “cracking looking jamjar.” That these two car lovers were impressed immediately drew me to examine this vehicle further.

A view of the Fisker Karma’s solar panel roof

Capable of achieving 0 – 60 mph in “just a tad over 6 seconds,” the Fisker Karma may only be capable of a top speed of 125 mph but it has more torque than a Bugatti Veyron because of its electric motors. It is, according to May, a 2.5 tonne vehicle that is a “pleasure to drive.”

 

Unlike other electric vehicles, the Fisker Karma boasts a 2.0 litre General Motors sourced petrol engine that, when engaged, creates more electricity. Effectively this is a vehicle with an onboard power station and one that additionally boasts a 120-watt solar panel on the roof. The car, though, is also the only luxury electric vehicle currently available that has an ability to travel 50 miles on electric only with zero emissions. Environmental considerations here plainly don’t sacrifice an enjoyable drive.

 

To Henrik Fisker, the Danish co-founder of Fisker Automotive, style was also a key consideration. Fisker was responsible for the styling of vehicles including the Shelby GR1 concept, the Aston V8 Vantage and the BMW Z8 Roadster in previous roles at the Ford Motor Company, Aston Martin and DesignworksUSA, BMW’s California-based design studio and in the Karma he’s again shown his ability to create a vehicle that stands out.

 

The design keeps sustainability in mind. Fabrics are sourced from the Bridge of Weir Scottish leather makers, who insist upon the suppliers abiding to the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s conditions, and in the EcoChic Karma model it is possible to have an interior that is made with completely animal-free materials. Diamond Dust™ paint is free of solvents and wood trims are unvarnished and reclaimed from Californian wild fires.

 

Fisker Automotive has built about 2,000 units and delivered 840 of them to 46 dealers and distributors throughout the USA. The company claims that: “orders are outpacing production” and Al Gore, Colin Powell, Leonardo di Caprio and Ashton Kutcher already number among their customers.

 

Henrik Fisker, co-Founder of Fisker Automotive

Today, Fisker Automotive announced the appointment of Tom LaSorda, a former CEO, President and Vice Chairman of the Chrysler Group, as their new CEO and gave him full responsibility for the company’s day-to-day operations. This move comes after recent speculation that Fisker Automative was about to go under after it laid off around 65 of its 700 workers following issues with various loans from the US Department of Energy. The appointment of a titan of LaSorda’s standing, industry experts suggest, puts paid to such rumours.

 

As part of today’s deal, in a business that management claim will turn a profit by 2013, LaSorda has invested his own money in the company whilst Fisker will now concentrate on brand building and designing new vehicles.

 

A Fisker Karma displayed in the window of Harrods, 87 – 135 Brompton Road, London, SW1X 7XL

This January, Fisker Automotive displayed the Karma in the window at Harrods in London during the Winter Sale to showcase it to an international audience. Priced from $102,000 (around £86,000), the Fisker Karma will become available in markets outside of America in the coming months. A second vehicle, the Fisker Surf Shooting Brake, will be launched at a later date.

In the UK itself, the Fisker Karma will be on sale in 2013 and I, for one, will very much look forward to hearing more about this groundbreaking and luxurious electric arrival.

 

For more information on Fisker Automotive, go to: http://www.fiskerautomotive.com

 

Follow Fisker Automotive on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/fiskerauto

 

For more on Climate Cars, go to: http://www.climatecars.com

 

All images © Fisker Automotive 2012.

 

 

 

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